One of my favourite scholars is Markus Barth, son of the great Karl Barth, but a biblical theologian in his own right. I’ve blogged about him before and thought I’d throw up a post about him and the Lord’s Supper. Markus Barth wrote two important works on the Lord's Supper, the first being a lecture delivered in 1945 and published as
I love Barth’s Commentary on Ephesians, but on his theology of the Supper, I would reply along the lines of Flannery O’Connor’s reply to the suggestion that the Eucharist is a symbol. “ Well, toward morning the conversation turned on the Eucharist, which I, being the Catholic, was obviously supposed to defend. Mrs. Broadwater said when she was a child and received the Host, she thought of it as the Holy Ghost, He being the "most portable" person of the Trinity; now she thought of it as a symbol and implied that it was a pretty good one. I then said, in a very shaky voice, "Well, if it's a symbol, to hell with it." That was all the defense I was capable of but I realize now that this is all I will ever be able to say about it, outside of a story, except that it is the center of existence for me; all the rest is expendable.
Do you like his 2 volume commentary on Ephesians or any of his other works?
Part of the reason I am slowly explicating myself from my Baptist roots is the stark insistence that the Eucharist is "only" a symbol. I don't know what it is, but I know it's not just one thing. I'm walking away from the value that everything must have a logical, reasonable meaning. I need more myth in my life. Not the false kind, not the kind that has to prove everything. But the kind of myth that says that you don't see everything, even when you are looking straight at it--you only see it when you see past it, how it connects to so many other things.
I am still not all the way there. I don't like the way the Eucharist, even in the Anglican Church that I now attend, is stripped of its historical background--the Passover Feast and all of Israel's search for freedom in God--in the weekly ritual. My family celebrates Seder every year, and that has brought such depth to the cup and the wine. Honestly it's difficult to take in the white cellulose wafer that gums up on my tongue like Elmer's glue paste. There's nothing like matzo with wine (and charoset!)
But the Anglican does better than the Baptist, IMHO, because at least she sees that the story is about us, not about herself.
I only have the Ephesians commentary, which is the first I turn to when preaching on Ephesians.